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Main Index » Writing and Publishing » MFA Programs Re: [umass76] Lists that actually matter: Edit Log


Jan 8, 2007, 2:31 PM

Views: 27842
Re: [umass76] Lists that actually matter

In Reply To

I think I can explain the defensiveness....

we all know you put a lot of time in, and that's appreciated, but the problem is that your reactions are usually precipitate and though verbose and well written, tend to indicate that you are not actually considering challenges to your ranking system

this thread's had about 2,500 views since 12/31....

they aren't unique hits. each hit by every user is counted. I'm probably responsible for 100 hits on my own. I'm doubtful that there are more than, say, 150 people reading this.

So, sure, I geared up for a major fight here, and--knowing I would be the only person to defend the rankings against the inevitable onslaught--I set my tone accordingly.

Um, often when you are the ONLY person defending something, it means you are wrong. And tone begets tone.

...the false information and false arguments...
... misstate, as just happened in this thread, silly little easily-checked facts like whether ... TKS says Iowa is "fifteen or whatever spots lower than any school" (it doesn't, it says there are 11 schools ahead in the rankings, and then acknowledges that if funding is not a major issue for you, you can bump Iowa up into the Top 10),

um, I think that implied in the use of the word "whatever," is that I didn't take the trouble to actually check where it is ranked. And we're almost all reacting to where you, umass76, ranked schools (though you've based them somewhat on Kealey)

misstate Iowa's funding scheme or the availability of in-state tuition for first-year students,

Iowa students on this board have repeatedly said that funding - in varying degrees and amounts with varying responsibilities - is available to all students

refuse to acknowledge that some of Iowa's reputation is based on the 1997 rankings, making (if we're not careful) its continued ascendance a veritable fait accompli, and

dude, check the history books. Iowa's reputation as the top school started way back when Flannery O'Connor was part of the faculty. Way the hell before 1997. If they stay there is going to be dependant on Lan Samantha Chang. Not much of anything else.

[Hopperfu is wrong because he criticizes] TKS for putting Indiana at #5 and then says "it was in my top ten schools to apply to," or similar forms of dramatic irony.

um, again, I think I made it quite clear in my post that there are a number of criteria for ranking, and that it was in MY top ten list. For a number of reasons, location and funding were extremely important to me, and past my top three schools, quality of life became paramount.

If this entire thread establishes one thing, it's that complaints about TKS come down to only three issues:

1. Is Iowa too low?
2. Is Columbia too low?
3. Why isn't the school I personally like, ______________, in there somewhere?

I'd agree with number 3. We all think that wherever we are going is the best. But the other two numbers are more symptomatic of problems than the actual problems themselves.

#1 is a non-starter because everyone ... admits that if funding were a major issue for them ... Iowa wouldn't be/wasn't their top choice....

Iowa has funding. Not for everybody, and not in the same amount. And it is a school that people are often willing to go into debt for. Regardless, most people apply there because it is the/a top school, and most people hope they are admitted with funding

...Those who say Iowa is the clear number one simply reject, wholesale, the premise of TKS, which is that funding matters...

Again, no. You are rejecting wholesale what everybody keeps saying: Iowa has funding. It is tiered, but it exists.
And while funding matters, IT ISN'T EVERYTHING! If it was, we'd all be going to law school. Hell, if funding was everything than Cornell would be the easy #1 and Michener would probably be a consensus #2

If you won't apply to Columbia, stop saying it "absolutely" deserves to be a top five school. What you're really saying, in effect, is that while funding is an issue for you, you don't ever want to see rankings in which the ranking system presumes that other prospective MFA students are just like you and care about funding, too.

In my book, Columbia's major problems are funding AND location. But they have an amazing faculty. For some people - in fact, quite a few people on this board - funding is not an issue. If you love New York and you have money in some form, Columbia is worth looking at. I'm not sure where it should be ranked, but they get something like 50 students a year, so there are obviously enough MFA students who don't care about funding. [Edited to add: I would say, if you've got the money and are willing to live in NYC, than you need to look at Columbia. Big 'ifs' for some people]

So here's the basic problem, umass76: you've spent a whole bunch of time making this ranking system, and because of it, you are defending it - and its results - regardless of what other people say. Okay, so you moved Iowa, but doesn't that in itself show that the ranking system you came up with is flawed?
Reputation matters. Funding matters. Faculty matters. What the alumni/current students think (in terms of both effectiveness and happyness) matters.
You can't rank based on location, sorry (though Gary, Indiana would probably rank low for everybody). I can't live in New York. Clench can't leave it behind.
Again, though, rankings will really depend on WHY somebody wants to go to an MFA program. If you just want time to write, a program with great no-strings-attached funding is the place to go. If you want reputation and publishing contacts and have money, Columbia. If you want to work with Pulitzer Prize winning writers, Iowa's not a bed bet (though I'm guessing they'll retire soon enough).
All this ranking should be is a starting point for people to start making their lists of schools to apply to. A more realistic list would include caveats:
Iowa (but funding can vary and cause a sense of competition. People love it or hate it)
Columbia (NYC, you'll almost certainly go into debt, huge admitted class, but access to publishing scene)
Cornell (incredible funding, great support, extremely hard to get in, only a few big name faculty)

But whatever. One of the reasons I've mostly stayed out of this is because I don't really care. I already made my choice.
And it doesn't matter where we rank anything: the rankings are going to rise or fall mostly because of the publications of students and alumni. That's the bottom line. Whatever school you go to, umass76, whether it's ranked 1 or 400, is going to get a huge bump if you win the Pulitzer...

(This post was edited by HopperFu on Jan 8, 2007, 2:35 PM)

Edit Log:
Post edited by HopperFu (Enthusiast) on Jan 8, 2007, 2:35 PM

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